Well-respected Australian painter Geoff Todd is holding an exhibition in Bali, themed “Friendship”, to examine, as well as criticize, the current tension between Jakarta and Canberra. The exhibition showcases 44 works of the veteran painter and is being held at Positive Negative Gallery on Jl. Drupadi in Seminyak from Jan. 25 to April 12. Todd told Bali Daily during the opening on Saturday that this exhibition was inspired by his embarrassment at the current situation experienced by the two countries.
“When countries have differences of opinion, whether it’s over asylum seekers or spying or anything, I just want to remind the politicians, the powerful people, that there are people on the ground who are friends across the water,” Todd said. “And these friends are the ones who put the politicians in power,” he said. Through the exhibition, Todd said he wanted politicians on both sides to worry about protecting these people’s friendships, instead of worrying about getting the best for their own country.
“When there’s a problem, they should work together, not against each other,” he said. Todd said he had been worrying about this situation for decades, but had been trying to find the best time to hold an exhibition. It was when Positive Negative gallerist, Debbie Amelsvoort, asked him to hold an exhibition at the gallery that Todd felt the time had come. He said it was important for Australians to come and see his works, and was pleased that many had shown up for the opening.
He plans to hold a similar event in his own country. Former Indonesian ambassador to Australia, Sabam Siagian, officiated the event on Saturday and spoke about how the two countries had always been good friends. It was Todd who captured this through his paintings, he said. “Australia is a dynamic country […] And I sensed it this afternoon when looking around this [exhibition],” said Sabam in his speech on Saturday.
“This painter has been coming to Indonesia since 1990, visiting us frequently, not only Bali. And he captured the mood,” he said. Sabam commented on one of the paintings, titled Touch, which portrays an Indonesian and an Australian girl playing on an iPad together. “That’s our friendship, right there,” he said. “Of course, our bilateral relationship could not be that simple, nor romantic like that.”
Sabam quoted former Australian prime minister Paul Keating as saying in March 1994: “We [Australia] are part of the Asia-Pacific region. And Indonesia is our most important friend.” “I do hope also that Australian visitors to Bali, when they pass by, have a glimpse of this,” he said. Born in 1950 in Melbourne, Todd had his first solo exhibition in 1969 at the age of 18. He continued to paint and exhibit his work in Melbourne and around Victoria and was included in group exhibitions overseas.
He established himself as a serious young artist with acquisitions by the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and numerous regional public galleries throughout Australia. During this productive period, his work also found its way into many private collections. In 1980, he became the first Melbourne artist appointed as artist-in-residence at the Victorian College of the Arts, a position normally reserved for interstate and overseas artists.
This appointment led to a highly prolific period for him. His paintings and drawings completed in Indonesia attracted much interest and have been purchased by numerous collectors throughout Australia and Indonesia. In 1999, Todd held an exhibition at the Benteng Vredeburg fort in Yogyakarta, which was opened by Prince Prabukusomo. The public response in Indonesia to his exhibition resulted in articles appearing widely throughout the Indonesian and Australian media, acclaiming his work and establishing him as a respected artist within Indonesia.
Indonesia is seen as Todd’s first stepping stone to further and continuous overseas travel, which has allowed him to pursue opportunities for time and space to work and exhibit with renewed inspiration. In a 2004 book by Jacqueline Healy, titled Looking North. The Art of Geoff Todd, she says: “Geoff Todd’s art is inspired by his compassion for humanity, as well as form. His work challenges us to reconsider our lives and values.”
source : bali daily